Hillary Clinton Has a Vagina and So Do I

Erica C. Barnett

Erica Barnett ponders whether she is obligated to vote for Hillary Clinton based on gender alone.

Should women support Hillary Clinton?

As a progressive, a feminist, and a chick, my support for Clinton is presumed. After all, I have a vagina. So does she. I want to see a woman president. She's a woman. I support choice, reproductive services, expanded women's health care, pay parity. She says she'll deliver all those things.

The thing is, though, so does John Edwards-someone I've supported since well before he became John Kerry's vice-presidential pick in 2004. I like Edwards because he emphasizes poverty, social justice, and ending corporate welfare. Of all the candidates, his positions are most in line with my beliefs. His campaign promises-ending corporate welfare, eliminating tax giveaways to the wealthiest two percent of Americans, implementing a just system of health care for all-are most in line with what I want.

But like almost everyone who is not a straight, white, Christian male, I've dreamed of having someone in the White House who looks like me. This is more than simplistic identity politics. Yes, it's identity politics, but it's not simple.

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We live in a country where identity still, to a huge extent, shapes experience. A black person understands better than me what it's like to experience racism; a gay person understands what it's like to be denied basic rights because of your sexuality. And I feel that we need to put someone in the White House who understands that eight years of George W. Bush has devastated women's status in this country-and who will prioritize putting things right.

Clinton articulated this argument brilliantly October 22 during an appearance in front of the Washington State Democrats at Benaroya Hall. "There are two groups that inspire me to keep going," Clinton said. "One is women in their 90s who come to my events… They all say something like, 'I'm 95 years old. I was born before women could vote in this country and I'm going to live long enough to see a woman in the White House.' The other group is the children who come… I see a parent lean over to a daughter and say, 'See, honey? In this country you can be anything you want to be.'"

Cheesy? Trite? Sure. But compelling to many women, including Linda Mitchell, board chair for the Washington State Women's Political Caucus. In a letter to WPC members, Mitchell said that while Clinton's positions on health care, the environment, and choice were appealing, "I'm not going to lie: The reality is that for me, it's time. For the first time we have a strong, viable, qualified woman who CAN be president, who is giving it her all, and who has a real shot at winning. And it's time for feminists to step up and make it happen."

Edie Gillis, political director for Progressive Majority of Washington, has a similar take. She says she supports Clinton not for her political platform-"I'm probably a little more liberal"-but because Clinton is a woman. "All of the little differences between the candidates are meaningless to me," Gillis says. "For me, it's a precedent-setting thing. I just got married, I'm thinking about starting a family, and if I have a daughter, I want to be able to tell her that there's a woman in the White House. It would totally change the way we look at the presidency."

But, again, so would a truly liberal president like John Edwards. After decades of Republican rule, centrism, and triangulation, Edwards promises a return to the progressive tradition on which the Democratic Party was founded. It's hard to turn my back on that possibility. With Edwards trailing in the polls, Clinton is starting to seduce many who are wary of her centrist politics and corporate contributions-including many feminists.

But not all-and with good reason.

Although both Clinton and Edwards voted for the Iraq war resolution in 2002, only Edwards has fully recanted, saying bluntly in a Washington Post op-ed: "I was wrong." His emphasis on poverty and improving the living conditions of all Americans would disproportionately benefit women, who make up the bulk of those living in poverty and earning the minimum wage. He has also been more explicit about which taxes he would raise to keep the deficit under control: He would eliminate Bush's tax cuts for the richest 2 percent of Americans, those earning more than around $200,000 a year. And he would increase taxes on capital gains and windfall profits taxes on oil companies.

Two prominent feminist bloggers-Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon and Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare's Sister-have been vocal about their support for Edwards and lack of enthusiasm for Clinton. Back in February, after the Edwards campaign hired both Marcotte and McEwan, the pair came under fire by religious-right bigot Bill Donohue for being "anti-Catholic." After several days of indecision from the Edwards campaign, both women resigned. However, both Marcotte and McEwan have maintained their support for Edwards, asserting that he better represents the interests of women and progressives.

McEwan argues that because Edwards has daughters and a wife, Elizabeth, whose health-care needs are greater than most Americans', he "has nearly as much reason to be as keen on women's issues as… Hillary, who is also no doubt motivated by her daughter's needs in the future." She points to a 2005 study by researchers at Yale University that found that male politicians with daughters were actually more likely to focus on "women's issues" than female candidates. And, McEwan continues, "I'm not going to support a female Democrat just because she's a woman. Hillary is an especially tough case for me, because I really, really like her as a person… But some of her positions, and particularly her corporatism, rub me completely the wrong way."

Me, too-to the point that, until recently, I said I'd only support Clinton if she got the nomination, and only grudgingly. But my old childhood fantasy-the idea that, in my lifetime, a woman could be president-is pushing me slowly in Clinton's direction.

Putting Hillary Clinton in the White House would change presidential priorities. Yes, Edwards has a pro-choice platform-Barack Obama too. Yes, both believe in expanding family and medical leave and implementing policies that close the pay gap between men and women. In fact, on most issues that matter to women in particular, the three frontrunners hold virtually identical positions.

But although Edwards and Obama may agree with Clinton on many things, I believe that-as a progressive woman-Clinton would be far more likely to prioritize women and children than any candidate who has never been a woman or a mother. No, a President Condoleezza Rice or Elizabeth Dole wouldn't prioritize women; in fact, they'd probably roll back women's rights to please the sexist, retrograde, increasingly fundamentalist base of the party they belong to. But Clinton's a Democrat. Moreover, she's made women's issues the cornerstone of her campaign. To say she'll make them the cornerstone of her presidency isn't sexism; it's pragmatism.

Women's issues matter in this election-perhaps more than at any other time in the last 30 years. During his years as president, George W. Bush has dramatically eroded the rights of women and children at home and abroad. On his first day in office, Bush signed the "global gag rule," denying U.S. aid to any organization that provides abortions or information about abortions (responding to patients' questions about their options, for example)-a decision that has led to the dismantling of reproductive services around the world, and to countless deaths worldwide. He supported the so-called Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, and appointed two of the Supreme Court justices who subsequently upheld it as the law of the land. He pressured the FDA to bar the over-the-counter sales of emergency contraception, ignoring the recommendations of two FDA panels. He supported legislation that would redefine embryos as "individuals" with the same human rights as living people. He promoted misleading and inaccurate abstinence-only education programs whose only effect was to reduce the number of sexually active teens who use birth control. He even appointed an anti-contraception activist to head the federal family-planning office.

Because these are women's issues, it makes sense that a woman candidate would view them as her issues. And Clinton does. It's why she has spoken out against countries that ignore human trafficking and forced prostitution. It's why she sponsored legislation that would make family-planning services, including emergency contraception, more accessible to low-income women and require insurance companies to pay for birth control. It's why she supported allowing pharmacies to sell EC over the counter (and blocked confirmation of the new FDA chief until it was approved). It's why she introduced a bill that would make EC available to all women in America's armed services. It's why she opposed the noxious "global gag rule." It's why she sponsored legislation aimed at ending the pay gap between men and women. It's why she wants to implement a universal pre-kindergarten program. It's why she wants to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act and implement paid maternity-leave programs in every state by 2016. It's why she wants to require all health-care companies to cover prescription birth control in their plans. It's why she wants to outlaw "maternal profiling"-the practice in some companies of making pay and promotion decisions based on the assumption that women will have babies.

And it's why she's said things like, "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was fulfill my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life."

Republicans lambasted Clinton for her cookie comment in 1992.

In the 15 years since, they've elevated Clinton to a sort of superstar villain, a malevolent bogeywoman who personifies all their darkest fears. At a recent Republican debate in Florida, the Republican presidential hopefuls couldn't stop talking about Clinton-to the point that they hardly spent any time at all talking about their own campaigns. Mitt Romney said Clinton "hasn't even run a corner store." Rudy Giuliani said America "can't afford" a Clinton presidency. And John McCain made a crack about her proposal to fund a Woodstock museum, saying, "I'm sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event."

In attacking Clinton, her critics on the right reveal how ugly, sexist, and antiwoman they really are. When she speaks in support of expanded civil rights, including adoption rights, for gays and lesbians, they insinuate that she's gay. When she fails to dress in Armani, à la Nancy Pelosi, they attack her for being "dowdy." When she doesn't act appropriately feminine, they call her a "man." (In fairness, they also call Obama and Edwards women.) When Michelle Obama makes an aside that "if you can't run your own house, you can't run the White House," the right-wing noise machine turns it into a manufactured "catfight."

When Clinton campaigns aggressively, they compare her to a "hellish housewife" who "just won't stop nagging you." When she doesn't come down hard enough on an issue, they insist that she isn't aggressive enough to be president. They accuse her of trotting out a manufactured "maternal" side. They even try to make her look like an ice queen for giving away her cat. And finally, when they have nothing else to say, they criticize her laugh-sorry, make that "cackle." Anyone who inspires this much hysteria among Republicans is all right with me.

On the other hand, some women argue that the very reason I like Clinton is reason enough to ditch her. Many women (and men) describe her as "divisive," and call her (despite polls that show her with a solid lead among Democrats and some support among Republican women) "the only Democrat who could lose this election." Sue Evans, media relations coordinator for Pyramid Communications and a Democrat, says that while she doesn't "think anybody questions Hillary's ability to do the job, it's the fear of not getting the White House back after what this country has been through that's the concern. I want the White House."

And many smart, liberal women who support candidates other than Clinton make a good point: She isn't as progressive as some of her fellow frontrunners. She supported the Defense of Marriage Act. She cosponsored the flag-burning amendment. And she supported legislation that some say opens the door for military action in Iran.

Like many liberals, I'm disturbed by all those votes, but here's where I run into a big "But." Democrats of late could not be accused of making the perfect the enemy of the good. We nominated John Kerry, for fuck's sake, and supported him wholeheartedly. So are we holding Clinton to a higher standard, and if so, can we see beyond her gender to her electability and fitness to govern? And are we, as women, holding Clinton to an unattainable standard? As Clinton supporter Mitchell puts it, "If not now, then when? If we're waiting for the perfect woman candidate, we're never going to get a woman president." City Council Member Sally Clark, a recent Clinton convert, thinks Clinton may "get called 'shrill,' a 'shrew,' and a 'bitch' because she's aggressive and knows what she wants and is really focused. It's not like she gets up on the platform and rages."

Feminist writers and political activists have debated themselves to death about whether being a woman means supporting Clinton. I don't think it does. As a woman, however, I believe Clinton will do right by me on issues that matter to women-which is an entirely different thing than supporting a candidate because of her gender.

I'll still support Edwards if he gets the nomination-an outcome that seems less and less likely in light of the Clinton juggernaut. But if it's Clinton, I'll support her enthusiastically. As a feminist and a woman, I'm ready to see someone who shares my values and my gender in the White House. It's about time.

This article was originally published in The Stranger.

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: ‘If You Don’t Vote … You Are Trifling’

Ally Boguhn

The chair of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week blasted those who sit out on Election Day, and mothers who lost children to gun violence were given a platform at the party's convention.

The chair of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week blasted those who sit out on Election Day, and mothers who lost children to gun violence were given a platform at the party’s convention.

DNC Chair Marcia Fudge: “If You Don’t Vote, You Are Ungrateful, You Are Lazy, and You Are Trifling”

The chair of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), criticized those who choose to sit out the election while speaking on the final day of the convention.

“If you want a decent education for your children, you had better vote,” Fudge told the party’s women’s caucus, which had convened to discuss what is at stake for women and reproductive health and rights this election season.

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“If you want to make sure that hungry children are fed, you had better vote,” said Fudge. “If you want to be sure that all the women who survive solely on Social Security will not go into poverty immediately, you had better vote.”

“And if you don’t vote, let me tell you something, there is no excuse for you. If you don’t vote, you don’t count,” she said.

“So as I leave, I’m just going to say this to you. You tell them I said it, and I’m not hesitant about it. If you don’t vote, you are ungrateful, you are lazy, and you are trifling.”

The congresswoman’s website notes that she represents a state where some legislators have “attempted to suppress voting by certain populations” by pushing voting restrictions that “hit vulnerable communities the hardest.”

Ohio has recently made headlines for enacting changes that would make it harder to vote, including rolling back the state’s early voting period and purging its voter rolls of those who have not voted for six years.

Fudge, however, has worked to expand access to voting by co-sponsoring the federal Voting Rights Amendment Act, which would restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act that were stripped by the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder.

“Mothers of the Movement” Take the National Spotlight

In July 2015, the Waller County Sheriff’s Office released a statement that 28-year-old Sandra Bland had been found dead in her jail cell that morning due to “what appears to be self-asphyxiation.” Though police attempted to paint the death a suicide, Bland’s family has denied that she would have ended her own life given that she had just secured a new job and had not displayed any suicidal tendencies.

Bland’s death sparked national outcry from activists who demanded an investigation, and inspired the hashtag #SayHerName to draw attention to the deaths of Black women who died at the hands of police.

Tuesday night at the DNC, Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, and a group of other Black women who have lost children to gun violence, in police custody, or at the hands of police—the “Mothers of the Movement”—told the country why the deaths of their children should matter to voters. They offered their support to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during a speech at the convention.

“One year ago yesterday, I lived the worst nightmare anyone could imagine. I watched as my daughter was lowered into the ground in a coffin,” said Geneva Reed-Veal.

“Six other women have died in custody that same month: Kindra Chapman, Alexis McGovern, Sarah Lee Circle Bear, Raynette Turner, Ralkina Jones, and Joyce Curnell. So many of our children are gone, but they are not forgotten,” she continued. 

“You don’t stop being a mom when your child dies,” said Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis. “His life ended the day that he was shot and killed for playing loud music. But my job as his mother didn’t.” 

McBath said that though she had lost her son, she continued to work to protect his legacy. “We’re going to keep telling our children’s stories and we’re urging you to say their names,” she said. “And we’re also going to keep using our voices and our votes to support leaders, like Hillary Clinton, who will help us protect one another so that this club of heartbroken mothers stops growing.” 

Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, called herself “an unwilling participant in this movement,” noting that she “would not have signed up for this, [nor would] any other mother that’s standing here with me today.” 

“But I am here today for my son, Trayvon Martin, who is in heaven, and … his brother, Jahvaris Fulton, who is still here on Earth,” Fulton said. “I did not want this spotlight. But I will do everything I can to focus some of this light on the pain of a path out of the darkness.”

What Else We’re Reading

Renee Bracey Sherman explained in Glamour why Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine’s position on abortion scares her.

NARAL’s Ilyse Hogue told Cosmopolitan why she shared her abortion story on stage at the DNC.

Lilly Workneh, the Huffington Post’s Black Voices senior editor, explained how the DNC was “powered by a bevy of remarkable black women.”

Rebecca Traister wrote about how Clinton’s historic nomination puts the Democratic nominee “one step closer to making the impossible possible.”

Rewire attended a Democrats for Life of America event while in Philadelphia for the convention and fact-checked the group’s executive director.

A woman may have finally clinched the nomination for a major political party, but Judith Warner in Politico Magazine took on whether the “glass ceiling” has really been cracked for women in politics.

With Clinton’s nomination, “Dozens of other women across the country, in interviews at their offices or alongside their children, also said they felt on the cusp of a major, collective step forward,” reported Jodi Kantor for the New York Times.

According to Philly.com, Philadelphia’s Maternity Care Coalition staffed “eight curtained breast-feeding stalls on site [at the DNC], complete with comfy chairs, side tables, and electrical outlets.” Republicans reportedly offered similar accommodations at their convention the week before.

Commentary Politics

On Immigration, Major Political Parties Can’t Seem to Agree on What’s ‘Un-American’

Tina Vasquez

As far as immigration is concerned, neither the Democrats nor Republicans are without their faults, though positions taken at the conventions were clearly more extreme in one case than the other.

Read more of our coverage of the Democratic National Convention here.

Immigration has been one of the country’s most contentious political topics and, not surprisingly, is now a primary focus of this election. But no matter how you feel about the subject, this is a nation of immigrants in search of “el sueño Americano,” as Karla Ortiz reminded us on the first night of the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Ortiz, the 11-year-old daughter of two undocumented parents, appeared in a Hillary Clinton campaign ad earlier this year expressing fear that her parents would be deported. Standing next to her mother on the DNC stage, the young girl told the crowd that she is an American who wants to become a lawyer to help families like hers.

It was a powerful way to kick-start the week, suggesting to viewers Democrats were taking a radically different approach to immigration than the Republican National Convention (RNC). While the RNC made undocumented immigrants the scapegoats for a variety of social ills, from U.S. unemployment to terrorism, the DNC chose to highlight the contributions of immigrants: the U.S. citizen daughter of undocumented parents, the undocumented college graduate, the children of immigrants who went into politics. Yet, even the stories shared at the DNC were too tidy and palatable, focusing on “acceptable” immigrant narratives. There were no mixed-status families discussing their deported parents, for example.

As far as immigration is concerned, neither the Democrats nor Republicans are without their faults, though positions taken at the conventions were clearly more extreme in one case than the other. By the end of two weeks, viewers may not have known whether to blame immigrants for taking their jobs or to befriend their hardworking immigrant neighbors. For the undocumented immigrants watching the conventions, the message, however, was clear: Both parties have a lot of work to do when it comes to humanizing their communities.  

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“No Business Being in This Country”

For context, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence are the decidedly anti-immigrant ticket. From the beginning, Trump’s campaign has been overrun by anti-immigrant rhetoric, from calling Mexicans “rapists” and “killers” to calling for a ban on Muslim immigration. And as of July 24, Trump’s proposed ban now includes people from countries “compromised by terrorism” who will not be allowed to enter the United States, including anyone from France.

So, it should come as no surprise that the first night of the RNC, which had the theme of “Make America Safe Again,” preyed on American fears of the “other.” In this case: undocumented immigrants who, as Julianne Hing wrote for the Nation, “aren’t just drug dealers and rapists anymorenow they’re murderers, too.”

Night one of the RNC featured not one but three speakers whose children were killed by undocumented immigrants. “They’re just three brave representatives of many thousands who have suffered so gravely,” Trump said at the convention. “Of all my travels in this country, nothing has affected me more, nothing even close I have to tell you, than the time I have spent with the mothers and fathers who have lost their children to violence spilling across our borders, which we can solve. We have to solve it.”

Billed as “immigration reform advocates,” grieving parents like Mary Ann Mendoza called her son’s killer, who had resided in the United States for 20 years before the drunk driving accident that ended her police officer son’s life, an “illegal immigrant” who “had no business being in this country.”

It seemed exploitative and felt all too common. Drunk driving deaths are tragically common and have nothing to do with immigration, but it is easier to demonize undocumented immigrants than it is to address the nation’s broken immigration system and the conditions that are separating people from their countries of originconditions to which the United States has contributed. Trump has spent months intentionally and disingenuously pushing narratives that undocumented immigrants are hurting and exploiting the United States, rather than attempting to get to the root of these issues. This was hammered home by Mendoza, who finished her speech saying that we have a system that cares more about “illegals” than Americans, and that a vote for Hillary “puts all of our children’s lives at risk.”

There was also Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a notorious racist whose department made a practice of racially profiling Latinos and was recently found to be in civil contempt of court for “repeatedly and knowingly” disobeying orders to cease policing tactics against Latinos, NPR reported.

Like Mendoza, Arpaio told the RNC crowd that the immigration system “puts the needs of other nations ahead of ours” and that “we are more concerned with the rights of ‘illegal aliens’ and criminals than we are with protecting our own country.” The sheriff asserted that he was at the RNC because he was distinctly qualified to discuss the “dangers of illegal immigration,” as someone who has lived on both sides of the border.

“We have terrorists coming in over our border, infiltrating our communities, and causing massive destruction and mayhem,” Arpaio said. “We have criminals penetrating our weak border security systems and committing serious crimes.”

Broadly, the takeaway from the RNC and the GOP nominee himself is that undocumented immigrants are terrorists who are taking American jobs and lives. “Trump leaned on a tragic story of a young woman’s murder to prop up a generalized depiction of immigrants as menacing, homicidal animals ‘roaming freely to threaten peaceful citizens,’” Hing wrote for the Nation.

When accepting the nomination, Trump highlighted the story of Sarah Root of Nebraska, a 21-year-old who was killed in a drunk-driving accident by a 19-year-old undocumented immigrant.

“To this administration, [the Root family’s] amazing daughter was just one more American life that wasn’t worth protecting,” Trump said. “One more child to sacrifice on the altar of open borders.”

It should be noted that the information related to immigration that Trump provided in his RNC speech, which included the assertion that the federal government enables crime by not deporting more undocumented immigrants (despite deporting more undocumented immigrants than ever before in recent years), came from groups founded by John Tanton, a well-known nativist whom the Southern Poverty Law center referred to as “the racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement.”

“The Border Crossed Us”

From the get-go, it seemed the DNC set out to counter the dangerous, anti-immigrant rhetoric pushed at the RNC. Over and over again, Democrats like Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-CA) hit back hard against Trump, citing him by name and quoting him directly.

“Donald Trump believes that Mexican immigrants are murderers and rapists. But what about my parents, Donald?” Sánchez asked the crowd, standing next to her sister, Rep. Loretta Sánchez (D-CA). “They are the only parents in our nation’s 265-year history to send not one but two daughters to the United States Congress!”

Each speech from a Latino touched on immigration, glossing over the fact that immigration is not just a Latino issue. While the sentiments were positiveillustrating a community that is thriving, and providing a much-needed break from the RNC’s anti-immigrant rhetoricat the core of every speech were messages of assimilation and respectability politics.

Even in gutsier speeches from people like actress Eva Longoria, there was the need to assert that her family is American and that her father is a veteran. The actress said, “My family never crossed a border. The border crossed us.”

Whether intentional or not, the DNC divided immigrants into those who are acceptable, respectable, and worthy of citizenship, and those—invisible at the convention—who are not. “Border crossers” who do not identify as American, who do not learn English, who do not aspire to go to college or become an entrepreneur because basic survival is overwhelming enough, what about them? Do they deserve to be in detention? Do their families deserve to be ripped apart by deportation?

At the convention, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), a champion of immigration reform, said something seemingly innocuous that snapped into focus the problem with the Democrats’ immigration narrative.

“In her heart, Hillary Clinton’s dream for America is one where immigrants are allowed to come out of the shadows, get right with the law, pay their taxes, and not feel fear that their families are going to be ripped apart,” Gutiérrez said.

The Democratic Party is participating in an all-too-convenient erasure of the progress undocumented people have made through sheer force of will. Immigration has become a leading topic not because there are more people crossing the border (there aren’t) or because nativist Donald Trump decided to run for president, but because a segment of the population has been denied basic rights and has been fighting tooth and nail to save themselves, their families, and their communities.

Immigrants have been coming out of the shadows and as a result, are largely responsible for the few forms of relief undocumented communities now have, like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows certain undocumented immigrants who meet specific qualifications to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation. And “getting right with the law” is a joke at this point. The problem isn’t that immigrants are failing to adhere to immigration laws; the problem is immigration laws that are notoriously complicated and convoluted, and the system, which is so backlogged with cases that a judge sometimes has just seven minutes to determine an immigrant’s fate.

Becoming a U.S. citizen is also really expensive. There is a cap on how many people can immigrate from any given country in a year, and as Janell Ross explained at the Washington Post:

There are some countries, including Mexico, from where a worker with no special skills or a relative in the United States can apply and wait 23 years, according to the U.S. government’s own data. That’s right: There are people receiving visas right now in Mexico to immigrate to the United States who applied in 1993.

But getting back to Gutierrez’s quote: Undocumented immigrants do pay taxes, though their ability to contribute to our economy should not be the one point on which Democrats hang their hats in order to attract voters. And actually, undocumented people pay a lot of taxes—some $11.6 billion in state and local taxes last year, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy—while rarely benefiting from a majority of federal assistance programs since the administration of President Bill Clinton ended “welfare as we know it” in 1996.

If Democrats were being honest at their convention, we would have heard about their failure to end family detention, and they would have addressed that they too have a history of criminalizing undocumented immigrants.

The 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, enacted under former President Clinton, have had the combined effect of dramatically increasing the number of immigrants in detention and expanding mandatory or indefinite detention of noncitizens ordered to be removed to countries that will not accept them, as the American Civil Liberties Union notes on its site. Clinton also passed the North American Free Trade Agreement, which economically devastated Mexican farmers, leading to their mass migration to the United States in search of work.

In 1990, then-Sen. Joe Biden introduced the Violence Against Women Act, which passed in 1994 and specifically excluded undocumented women for the first 19 of the law’s 22 years, and even now is only helpful if the victim of intimate partner abuse is a child, parent, or current/former spouse of a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident.

In addition, President Obama is called by immigrant rights advocates “deporter in chief,” having put into place a “deportation machine” that has sent more than two million migrants back to their country of origin, more than any president in history. New arrivals to the United States, such as the Central American asylum seekers coming to our border escaping gender-based violence, are treated with the same level of prioritization for removal as threats to our national security. The country’s approach to this humanitarian crisis has been raiding homes in the middle of the night and placing migrants in detention centers, which despite being rife with allegations of human rights abuses, are making private prison corporations millions in revenue.

How Are We Defining “Un-American”?

When writing about the Democratic Party, community organizer Rosa Clemente, the 2008 Green Party vice president candidate, said that she is afraid of Trump, “but not enough to be distracted from what we must do, which is to break the two-party system for good.”

This is an election like we’ve never seen before, and it would be disingenuous to imply that the party advocating for the demise of the undocumented population is on equal footing with the party advocating for the rights of certain immigrants whose narratives it finds acceptable. But this is a country where Republicans loudly—and with no consequence—espouse racist, xenophobic, and nativist beliefs while Democrats publicly voice support of migrants while quietly standing by policies that criminalize undocumented communities and lead to record numbers of deportations.

During two weeks of conventions, both sides declared theirs was the party that encapsulated what America was supposed to be, adhering to morals and values handed down from our forefathers. But ours is a country comprised of stolen land and built by slave labor where today, undocumented immigrants, the population most affected by unjust immigration laws and violent anti-immigrant rhetoric, don’t have the right to vote. It is becoming increasingly hard to tell if that is indeed “un-American” or deeply American.